I first stumbled upon the work of Mario Miranda at the beautiful Reis Magos fort in Goa. At the art gallery I found myself in awe of the complicated and funny stories that emerged from his painting or caricature style sketches as some might call them. I came to know more about him on a subsequent visit to the Houses of Goa museum. Adjacent to the gallery was a shop selling some merchandise that Featured his artwork. That was where I purchased his first diary The Life of Mario 1951. Once I went back to Pune, I never really got around to reading it.
So, I started reading a few pages of the diary only this year and they were really something special. For some reason I stopped midway and I thought about checking if there were more books by him, like other years in the series. As it turned out there were two diaries 1949 and 1950 that were published after the 1951 diary. This was finally a chance to read them all in the order that they should be read.
They are vignettes of daily life with his friends in the village of Loutolim, with wry observations of people and activities in the 1950s. The sketches are masterfully done with some bitingly funny commentary on regular occurrences like a church mass or even eating out with his friends. Caricature is a tough form of art to master and Mario’s caricatures are incredible for someone who never had any formal education in art.
Going through all three of his diaries makes you yearn for simpler times when the pace of life was slow and there was incredible joy in the little things. Most of his days were spent meeting up with friends and relatives, eating and drinking at their favourite restaurants, playing cards and charades, and doing activities that most 25s years olds would not be doing in modern times. There is no doubt that being born into an aristocratic family afforded him a life that may have been more luxurious and easier going than most.
However, that is not what is reflected in his books. I simply felt that I was one among his group of friends that were a part of three years of his diaries making the most of their youth not by trying to achieve the extraordinary but merely making the most of every day.